The Donkey, the Goat and the Little Dog 2007, 22′

string quartet, narrator

Commissioned by the National Symphony Orchestra for the Kennedy String Quartet

Available from Subito Music.

The Kennedy String Quartet is a group of extremely intrepid musicians who do their own narrating in their kinderkonzerts. They specifically commissioned a story with four characters they would each act as well as play while round-robin-ing the narration and so we have Donkey/viola, Goat/second violin, Little Dog/first violin, Farmer/cello.  Most quartets will want to have an outside narrator, and I have published the score that way. (But try it their way – it’s a riot!)

This spring the Farmer finds each of his animals to be too old for their job, and the animals are worried sick about being replaced. They put their heads together and develop a plan to save themselves by saving the Farmer from the Robbers they hear are in the neighborhood. The plan, when carried out, involves the three animals crashing into the Farmer’s house and impersonating each other at full blast: the Donkey barks like the Little Dog; the Goat brays like the Donkey; the Little Dog bleats like the Goat and the Farmer – when he realizes what’s going on – tweets like a nightingale! The Robbers take one look at this nuthouse and run all the way to the next county. The Farmer thanks the animals and assures them that if he brings in new younger animals, it is only so they can enjoy easier, sweeter lives on the farm. He scratches each one behind the ears – just the way they like it – and they all eat ice cream!

“…a friendly, pain-free and often hilarious introduction to the string quartet for the 4-and-older crowd….billed as “the first all-talking, all-acting, in-motion string quartet.” Each of the instruments took on a distinct personality, and Kander had them laugh, cry, play and argue together, while the players romped around and spoke their roles to make the story clear. The whole thing was hugely enjoyable, ending (as all dramas properly should) with everyone eating ice cream together. The audience showed its approval with clapping, emphatic squeals and much bouncing in the seats.”
– Washington Post, Monday, January 22, 2007